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Destination Down Under: BLUE Sydney

April 8, 2014

BLUE Sydney

Almost always, the first order of business when hitting the road is finding the right place to stay.  Not to be confused with a good place.  While away, where you stay is as important as where you’re going.  A destination can be ruined by ill-equipped lodging.  And the last thing you want to be is that person who shares their horrible hotel experience.

Like many other good things, the devil lies squarely with the details, and the details not only matter, they make all the difference.  Most will say location is key.  I agree, location is important, but just because something is seated in the times square of wherever you are doesn’t mean you should stay there.  Not only can a few extra minutes of walking provide a quiet retreat, you’ll have more to talk about than the yelp reviews of your conveniently located abode.  During a recent visit to Australia, the selection was quickly narrowed to BLUE Sydney, where the combination of an interesting property and individual detail made the choice easy.

BLUE Sydney

BLUE is the combination of a lot of things, all good.  It’s housed on a former industrial wharf in Woolloomooloo, between the Royal Botanical Gardens and Potts Point at the top of the Darlinghurst neighborhood.  It’s location is key, and while it doesn’t sit right next to really anything, it’s close enough that  you won’t need to rely on taxis or other transport.  The building extends into the harbor for what seems like forever and still carries signs of its previous life.  Additionally, some of Sydney’s finest restaurants have also taken residence along the wharf, and are a dining destination in their own right.

Tapping into the building’s past, architectural elements of the property consist of a densely woven system of beams, belts, and layers, all serving a previous tenant that’s since been decades removed.  These structural details spread into the rooms, which are not only enviable in size (as someone who lives in New York), but offer a view and every other amenity you’d expect, including personality.  It doesn’t hurt that regardless of where you stay, you’ll get a clear view of the sun rising or setting.  And not to fret, your confused internal clock will promise your audience to at least a few sunrises.

While the building that houses BLUE is insanely large, the hotel only occupies a fraction of the property.  The other portions being privately owned.  This not only helps with limiting the volume of clientele, it also makes the experience personal and not very fussy.  Things are easier with more space and fewer people.  An appreciated notion embraced during our stay.  Any visit, wherever it may be, should be simple, easy and a little bit different.  The next time you head to Sydney, BLUE has you covered.

BLUE Sydney

BLUE Sydney

BLUE Sydney

BLUE Sydney

BLUE Sydney

BLUE Sydney

One of a few jet lagged induced sunrises.

BLUE Sydney

Special thanks to BLUE Sydney for all their hospitality.

 

 

Further Afield

March 7, 2014

Rand C Logo

The famed graphic designer, Paul Rand, and his infamous C logo gets a breath of fresh air. (Phaidon)

Uniqlo positions itself to become the world’s largest retailer. (Wall Street Journal)

The iconic biker jacket is celebrated in the exhibit Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket at the FIT Museum. (FIT)

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Design & Influence: Vignelli and HER

February 27, 2014

HER

No shortage of conversation occurs after experiencing a film like HER.  High waisted pants, well-worn mustaches, dependency on technology, the future of video games,  all make the conversational check list.  And while all are valid and worthy of discussion, the film’s design aesthetic is what really sets it apart.  It’s safe to say Spike Jonze is the consummate creator of art(y) films, and there were no punches pulled with HER.  The set, the wardrobe, his view of a future Los Angeles are all done so well, and perhaps more important, feel natural.

Jonze enlised the help of Geoff Mcfetridge to build a world that’s artificial, yet realistic.  With much of the landscape consisting of a blend between Shanghi and L.A., the Los Angeles creator took ques from designers past.  In addition to creating the drawings inside the offices of Theodore Twombly along with the computer interface and handheld device graphics, and the films credits, Mcfetridge was also responsible for the elaborate transit map that’s found in the back ground throughout several scenes.

HER

The retro aesthetic was inspired by Massimo Vignelli’s 1970s New York Subway map.  Vignelli, originally from Italy, came to America and attracted attention for his work designing signage for the D.C. metro and New York subway, the latter eventually hiring him to design the system’s map.  Although Vignelli’s map met mixed (unfavorable) reviews from New Yorkers for its diagrammatic approach and lack of scale geography, it remains a favorite amongst graphic designers and modern lovers alike (it still draws significant bids on eBay and the like).  And like Vignelli, who worked on just about every type of design that exists, Mcfetridge’s modernist approach spans the life of the film, woven into its fabric.  But it’s a glimpse at L.A.’s future transit system where the most influence can be felt with its broad use of geometric shapes and vivid color.

So now that HER is soon to be available online, you’ll have one more detail to search out, one more box to check.  For a look at similar design work, visit Champion Studio.

HER

HER

HER

Images via Champion Studio

Unionmade + The Grove

February 14, 2014

Unionmade Grove.4

In 2009, Unionmade opened their doors.  Located in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, it didn’t take long to get attention.  And deservedly so.  By many accounts Unionmade, with Todd Barket (of Gap fame) at the helm, can be given credit for bringing the menswear scene west.  In a city with a significant lack of the brick & mortar found out east, there was high demand for a place that carried a large selection of good, well made things under one roof.  Unionmade fit this bill, offering a full roster of quality infused brands whose relationships would later develop into collaborations, setting the selection completely apart from any coast.

Today the brand list tops 100, and includes all the crowd pleasers such as Alden, Barbour and Filson, but while great, these aren’t why you shop here.  The rest of the lineup is choked-full of goods from England, Japan, Italy, and of course good ol’ America.  The Sunspels, North Sea Clothings, Drakes, Kapitals and Boliolis are all on the team and ready to play.  And the collaborations we mentioned run deep, so a lot of what you see isn’t going to be easy to find elsewhere.  I paid a visit to Unionmade when they opened in ’09, and make it a point to visit whenever in town, and I’m always impressed.

Now just over four years later, Unionmade continues to carry the torch, and is expanding, again.  After first out growing and expanding the S.F. store, they opened two additional locations, one in Los Angeles and another in Marin (just north of S.F.).  Both the second and third locations carry the aesthetic and branding that made the first store so successful.  The sights are now set on a fourth location, again in Los Angeles.  The new outpost will be seated in the Grove shopping center and is sure to do well – the Grove may be one of the busiest places on earth.  The new location will be large enough to carry most of what you’ll find in S.F. and has the same vibe.  If you’re nearby, pay a visit.

Check out Unionmade at The Grove: 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles.

Unionmade Grove.1

Unionmade Grove.3

Unionmade Grove.2

Back in Action: Spiewak

January 9, 2014

Spiewak

In the last couple years, it seems there’s been an influx of centennial celebrations by companies making just about everything.  This is a good thing.  It not only means that there are a decent amount of companies which still exist stateside, but that they’re continuing to produce good things.  Spiewak is amongst this contingent.

With 110 years under their belt, Spiewalk has continued to produce high-quality outer wear for dockworkers, the armed forces, city and public workers alike.  Their jackets and their stories continue to be inspirational.  While the word iconic isn’t amongst my favorites, there isn’t a better word to describe a lot of what Spiewak has created.  The infamous WWII Navy deck jacket, snorkel parka and one of the first double-breasted pea coats all fall under the Spiewak label.

Kicking off the new year in good form (and temperature appropriate timing), Spiewak is set to premier their latest collection at Pitti Uomo in Florence.  With Maurizio Donadi of Levis & RL fame at the helm, the New York native label is taking a new approach and creating a collection suited towards today’s lifestyle, while maintaining quality consistent with products past.  Additionally, a Golden Fleece collection is slated to launch in the near future, which will take cues from its 1920′s predecessor and consist of pieces from the company’s archives.

Visit Spiewak for the full story and a glimpse at the complete collection.

Spiewak Golden Fleece

Spiewak Golden Fleece

Spiewak Golden Fleece

Spiewak Golden Fleece

Spiewak Golden Fleece

Images via: Spiewak

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